Kim Coles has written articles on the topics of women’s writing, gender, and religious ideology. Her book, Religion, Reform, and Women’s Writing in Early Modern England (Cambridge University Press, 2008; pbk 2010) examines the influence of women writers on religious identity and its cultural expression in the sixteenth century. Her current book project, “Bad Humour: Race and Religious Essentialism in Early Modern England,” is under contract at the University of Pennsylvania Press. The book uncovers how belief itself — the excess, defect, or lack of religion — was largely apprehended and understood in terms of temperament in the early modern period. The medical theory of this period gave the prevailing sense that body and soul were in sympathy. The project explores what this implies for religious and racial identity. Her work has been supported by the John W. Kluge Center in the Library of Congress, the Warburg Institute, and the Folger Shakespeare Library.
Folger Shakespeare Library Fellowship
The Folger Institute will offer research fellowships, in the amount of $3,500, to support four continuous weeks of research and writing away from the Folger.
Bad Humour: Race and Religious Essentialism in Early Modern England
Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, Forthcoming
Bad Humour: Race and Religious Essentialism in Early Modern England specifically appraises how early modern science, or natural philosophy, is applied to the racialization of people who are expelled from the faith as religious outsiders. English colonial activities were largely directed against other Christians. But the violence of the colonial project could not be effected against members of the same faith. These members—Irish Catholics, Spanish Catholics, converted Africans and Amerindians—had to be forcibly evicted. Of course, this is problematic as the doctrine of Christianity, in particular Pauline Christianity, insisted that all who were baptized in the spirit were incorporated in the faith. Early modern medical theory bound together psyche and soma in mutual influence. By the end of the sixteenth century, there is a general acceptance that the soul’s condition, as a consequence of religious belief or its absence, could be manifest in the humoral composition of the physical body. This book charts the process whereby religious error, first resident in the body, becomes marked on the skin.
The Cultural History of Race in the Renaissance and Early Modern Age (1350-1550)
London: Bloomsbury Publishing, Forthcoming October 2021
Ed. Kimberly Anne Coles and Dorothy Kim
“BlacKKKShakespearean: A Call to Action for Medieval and Early Modern Studies"
With immense pain, scholars of medieval and early modern literature, history, and culture have had to acknowledge that our fields of study are not politically neutral.
The colonial project is stitched in and through the language and literatures of the pre- and early modern periods; the politics and economics that ultimately produced settler colonialism, chattel slavery, the forced migration of peoples, and the development of the British empire animate these early English texts.
Routledge Companion to Women, Sex, and Gender in the Early British Colonial World
All of the essays in this volume capture the body in a particular attitude: in distress, vulnerability, pain, pleasure, labor, health, reproduction, or preparation for death.
Over the past three decades women’s and gender studies have evolved into disciplines that have energized”and transformed”the study of the early modern period. But the study of women and gender is not the same. As a discipline, feminism begins with the assumption that the sexed body changes the interaction of the subject in political space, regardless of other considerations of subject position. How these other social categories inflect the position of woman as a social actor and political subject does in many ways define the discipline of feminist inquiry, but the sex of the body, irrespective of gender identification, has always informed feminist analysis, which concerns primarily the political uses to which the body is put: in its labor; its social position; its religious identity; its cultural participation. Gender studies, by contrast, typically elides biological sex, inquiring into how gender identity and identification crucially alter social and political engagement, and how gender is imbricated in the social, political and even epistemological arrangements and assumptions of culture. Now, however, we occupy a historical moment when this disciplinary divide has begun to collapse: when the sex of the body can be altered to adhere to the gender identity of the subject, when calls have been made to appropriate the long-eschewed science of biology for feminist analysis, our thinking about the sexed subject in political space must inevitably change. Our political moment alters our scholarly and theoretical practice. This volume presents a comprehensive examination of the scholarship on women and gender in Anglophone literature during the early modern period. It examines women’s lives, their practical and cultural work, the ideologies of gender that underwrite cultural production, and the divide between ideology and lived experience.
“Gender in the 1590 Faerie Queene,” Edmund Spenser in Context
Edmund Spenser's poetry remains an indispensable touchstone of English literary history. Yet for modern readers his deliberate use of archaic language and his allegorical mode of writing can become barriers to understanding his poetry.
“The Matter of Belief in John Donne’s Holy Sonnets,”
Though historians of religion have demonstrated that the theological commitments of early modern English people were labile and complex, there was nonetheless a prevailing sense in the period that belief posited bodily consequences.
The Cultural Politics of Blood, 1500-1900
The essays collected here consider how conceptions of blood permeate discourses of human difference from 1500 to 1900 in England and continental Spain and in the Anglo- and Ibero-Americas.
Center for Literary and Comparative Studies | English
The essays collected here consider how conceptions of blood permeate discourses of human difference from 1500 to 1900 in England and continental Spain and in the Anglo- and Ibero-Americas. The authors explore how ideas about blood in science and literature have supported, at various points in history, fantasies of human embodiment and difference that serve to naturalize social hierarchies already in place. Situating the complex relationship between modern and pre-modern conceptions of race at the junction of early modern medicine, heredity, religion, and nation, The Cultural Politics of Blood challenges established accounts of the genealogy of modern racism.
Religion, Reform, and Women's Writing in Early Modern England
Long considered marginal in early modern culture, women writers were actually central to the development of a Protestant literary tradition in England.
Long considered marginal in early modern culture, women writers were actually central to the development of a Protestant literary tradition in England. Focusing primarily upon Katherine Parr, Anne Askew, Mary Sidney Herbert, and Anne Vaughan Lok, Coles argues that the writings of these women were among the most popular and influential works of sixteenth century England. This book is full of new material and fresh analysis for scholars of early modern literature, culture and religious history.